It’s 1972, and four teenage girls—three, black, in rural Georgia, and one, white, in Chicago—confront unwanted pregnancies before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal. When her older sister, Ola, misses her period, Izella, 15, convinces her to visit Mrs. Mac, an elderly “seer,” to end her pregnancy. The sisters’ predicament is complicated because their preacher mother, Evangelist, has been highly critical of a neighbor, Missippi, 14, who is also pregnant following sexual assault by her uncle (“I feel like that baby gone wind up raised in a house of hell with all kind of sin and debauchery”). When Missippi’s father, a long-haul trucker, moves his daughter to a Chicago home for pregnant teens run by the saintly Ms. Pearline, she meets Sue, 17, whose father is a conservative U.S. senator. The story bounces among each girl’s story (with chapter titles that announce how far each is into her pregnancy), culminating in a tragic ending for one and a pledge among the others to remain lifelong friends. An epilogue catches readers up to the young women as adults. Though some plot elements don’t add up, Pink (Into White) offers a timely, sobering account of the reality women faced before abortion was made legal. Ages 13–up. (Oct.)
Gr 9 Up—In 1972, four teenage girls find themselves pregnant. Upon the discovery of their condition, Missippi and Sue, one African American and the other Caucasian, are sent to Chicago to live in an apartment until the birth of their babies with other pregnant teens, under the care of Miss Pearlanne. Meanwhile, Ola is hiding her pregnancy from her mother, who doesn't think highly of neighbor Missippi's condition, and relies on her younger sister Izella to cover for her. While their pregnancies were all unplanned, one was a result of love, one of rape, and another of "that one time." Ranging in ages from 14 (Missippi) to 17 (Sue), the teens forge a bond that refuses to be broken, even after their time at Pearlanne's. Pink's exquisite novel explores the period of time when women were on the cusp of being able to choose. A time when women were sent away out of shame and family disgrace or kept in the backwoods and left to their own devices. With gut-wrenching, realistic scenes that illustrate their youth and innocence to scenes that show their forced growth into motherhood, readers' hearts will break for these teens who don't know what to expect when their life throws them the unexpected. VERDICT An excellent fictionalized look at the reality of teen pregnancy with a historical lens. A must for all teen collections.—Erin Holt, Williamson County Public Library, Franklin, TN
Four girls navigate the impact of pregnancies on their futures in 1972.
Ola, 16, and Izella, 15, are sisters living in rural Georgia with their devoutly religious mother, Evangelist. After visiting their seer neighbor, Ola discovers she's pregnant by her long-term boyfriend, a Vietnam War veteran suffering from PTSD, and she looks to Izella for support. Needing to be seen as mature, Izella feels obligated to take on the burden of Ola's situation and find a way to get rid of the baby. Evangelist looks after 14-year-old Missippi, who longs for a mama to guide her and someone to talk to while her father is away working. Now pregnant by her sexually abusive uncle, she leaves for Chicago to live with Ms. Pearline and other girls like her. While there, she meets Sue, 17, a white politician's daughter who is determined to rage against the silencing of women. As the nonlinear timeline goes on, each girl begins to understand the gravity of her situation, culminating in unbreakable bonds between them. Pink (Into White, 2016) weaves a heart-wrenching narrative through multiple perspectives that examines life before Roe v. Wade. The author brings to light the reality about the lack of choices that women, especially young, unwed women, had in regard to their futures. Ola, Izella, and Missippi are black.
A timely, honest story about women's right to choose. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 13-18)
"With gut-wrenching, realistic scenes that illustrate their youth and innocence to scenes that show their forced growth into motherhood, readers’ hearts will break for these teens who don’t know what to expect when their life throws them the unexpected. An excellent fictionalized look at the reality of teen pregnancy with a historical lens. A must for all teen collections.School Library Journal, STARRED review
"Pink offers a timely, sobering account of the reality women faced before abortion was made legal. Publishers Weekly
"[Pink's] style is absorbing, at times balancing Southern Gothic elements ... with trenchant pith. Throughout, though, the theme is one of young women struggling to help one another in a place and time that offers them few choices... Readers will be drawn by the story and stay for the message."--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Pink weaves a heart-wrenching narrative through multiple perspectives that examines life before Roe v. Wade. The author brings to light the reality about the lack of choices that women, especially young, unwed women, had in regard to their futures. A timely, honest story about women's right to choose."Kirkus Reviews
"Each of the four narrators provide a glimpse into what few options are left when abortion is not a choice, including backwoods abortion and its often-grave consequences. As women's right to choose is placed under scrutiny once again, these stories are a reminder of what horrors lie ahead when history repeats itself." Booklist
Praise for Into White:
"Pink is careful to never allow the story itself to fall into agenda-pushing. Instead, she allows Toya to explore the gray areas teens negotiate as their identities shift and as their belief systems are challenged. This debut ought to inspire readers to have conversations among themselves about family, empathy, community, and respect for others." Booklist, starred review
"Pink isn’t afraid of being provocative . . . and the book dives into thorny issues of identity, self-image, and the internal effects of racism in a strikingly frank way." Publishers Weekly